Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Can Gator pass the Mom Test?

Gator Threatening Those Who Call Their Application Spyware. Many people have pretty strong negative opinions about Gator's adware application (it watches what you surf and pops up its own ads). Gator, like most companies that have strong critics, has decided that they need something of a PR campaign to improve their image - specifically trying to overcome the impression that they're placing spyware on people's computers. So, what do they do? They decide to sue anyone who calls their application spyware. It seems like a debate on semantics, but Gator insists their product is not spyware at all. They claim that spyware is installed surreptiously, whereas their software requires someone to agree to install it. Others disagree with that definition, saying spyware includes any software that is constantly "phoning home" with your information, or which does things (such as pop up ads) without the user understanding why - in which case, Gator would qualify as spyware. However, so far, Gator's "PR" campaign has been winning, and sites are changing how they refer to Gator. This is, most likely, a short term strategy - because of articles like the one linked here, that make Gator look even worse by using threatening lawsuits to quiet anyone critical of their software. Instead of pulling out the big legal stick, wouldn't it have made more sense to make the program less problematic? [Techdirt]

What you call it isn't the issue. Trying to build businesses that appear to depend on keeping users uninformed of what software applications are doing to their systems is.

Here's a gedanken experiment for you. How many of the staff at Gator would be comfortable running the software on their machines (or their mother's)? Alternatively, how many people would install and run the software if all of its activities were fully disclosed in something other than an EULA that almost nobody reads?

This is fundamentally a cluetrain argument. Do youhave a business model that is potentially transparent to all parties. Or does the model depend on the laziness or ignorance of one of the parties. Classic mass media strategies (TV, Radio, Magazines) are built around sponsors who will foot the bill in exchange for the chance to present ads to viewers. An acceptable tradeoff and one that is generally transparent. Product placement starts to move into a grayer world.  The more I think about it, the more the Mom test seems pertinent.

5:47:06 PM •  • comment  
Liz Lawley and I share a blogiversary today

happy blogiversary to me. One year. Four hundred and thirty-nine entries. One thousand, five hundred and forty-six comments. (Thanks for being the first, Joi!) Over fourteen thousand page views per month. An entire world of new friends and colleagues. A changed life.... [mamamusings]

Nice to share a blogiversary with such distinguished company. Happy blogiversary indeed!

9:12:00 AM •  • comment  
Second blogiversary

I've now been writing this weblog for two years. My very first post was a pointer to a Technology Review article on the challenges of preserving digital information. A little later that day I posted a entry on John Robb's notion of k-logs. Since then I've tried to stay reasonably focused on the topic of knowledge management and knowledge work.

According to Radio this is my 3,740th post since that first day. You haven't seen all of them because I use this same tool to maintain a personal k-log of material, but most of them have found there way here.

Last night I was on the phone with Buzz talking about ActiveWords, knowledge management, the Dean campaign, and Feedster among other things. Without a blog, I would never have discovered ActiveWords nor met Buzz. In my recent email archives I've been chatting with Ross Mayfield, Rick Klau, AKMA, Dave Pollard, Roland Tanglao, Terry Frazier, Denham Gray, Jack Vinson, Judith Meskill, Lilia Efimova, Jon Husband, Greg Reinacker, Matt Mower, Jenny Levine, and others I'm sure I'm forgetting. I've also had the pleasure of meeting and interacting with the likes of Dave Winer, David Weinberger, Robert Scoble, Ben and Mena Trott and other luminaries.

Pretty good payoff from taking the risk of putting my thoughts out in public before I was sure they were fully polished.

8:57:13 AM •  • comment